American Water Resources Association

Increased salinization of freshwater in the northeastern U.S.

  • 21 Jan 2010
  • 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
  • Philadelphia Water Department, 1101 Market St., 5th Floor, Philadelphia, PA


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Topic:  Increased salinization of freshwater in the northeastern U.S.

Featured Speaker:  Dr. Sujay Kaushal, Chesapeake Biological Lab., Univ. of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

NOTE location change for January Meeting: 
Philadelphia Water Department, 1101 Market St., 5th Floor

Chloride concentrations are increasing at a rate that threatens the availability of fresh water in the northeastern U.S.  Increases in roadways and deicer use are now salinizing fresh waters, degrading habitat for aquatic organisms, and impacting large supplies of drinking water for humans throughout the region.  We observed chloride concentrations up to 25% of the concentration of seawater in streams of Maryland, New York, and New Hampshire during winters, and chloride concentrations remaining up to 100 times greater than unimpacted forest streams during summers.  Mean annual chloride concentration increased as a function of impervious surface and exceeded tolerance for freshwater life in suburban and urban watersheds.  Our analysis shows that if salinity were to continue to increase at its present rate due to changes in impervious surface coverage and current management practices, many surface waters in the northeastern U.S. would not be potable for human consumption and would be toxic to freshwater life within the next century.  New results will also be discussed regarding the effects of increasing climate variability/change on road salt dynamics, and the effects of road salt on stream and river restoration efforts.
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